Overlooking luck

Can someone please explain to Newt Gingrich that people not wanting a job typically doesn’t cause poverty; being unable to get a job causes poverty.  I would strongly assert that very few people want to be unable to provide for themselves and their families.  People who have only experienced privilege often do not recognize the parts of their lives that others are not lucky enough to have.

When it comes down to it, I think poverty and low levels of income are often a factor of luck : what opportunities your family is fortunate enough to provide in your youth and young adult life.  People with privilege raise their children with a sky’s the limit approach.  I’m not blaming anyone for giving their kids everything they need and want, I’m just saying that few parents show their children how many advantages wealth creates.

I guess I never realized some of the differences in the way children of privilege grow up in comparison to my upbringing.  I’ve spent the last three years trying to learn the differences, so that I could try to make up the ground in order to compete for the same grades, internships, and scholarships.  Coming from a blue-collar family, I grew up in a small farming and factory town in Ohio.   I was lucky enough to have parents who never attended college, but wanted their children to have the ability to do so.  Had my parents not valued education and encouraged my interest, I highly doubt I’d even be in college.  Teachers in my area aren’t exactly known for their great teaching ability.  I can remember many classes when we would watch a movie, or do a worksheet because the teacher didn’t feel like teaching that day.  My college peers laughed at the idea, having attended top public and private schools across the country.  In high school, the longest paper I had ever written was five pages.  My first week of college I realized I’d be writing upwards of 100 pages worth of papers over the semester.

Needless to say my education did not leave me feeling prepared for the type of work that is expected to gain an education that will help me step out of the blue collar world into the white collar.   Everyone always talks about the American Dream.  People rarely talk about how hard that dream is for most Americans. I still remember the day I got into Wellesley College.  My parents sat me down and let me know how proud they were, only to remind me that my chances of attending still would ultimately be determined by how much financial aid I received.

I also remember how hard my mom cried the day she realized that she could afford to help me through college, and that I could attend the type of college I’d been dreaming of.  I consider myself to have accomplished a lot of what I have because of luck and because of my parents, but I think a lot of people don’t realize how lucky they have been.

Leave a Reply